I was recently chatting with a very senior retired academician and research scientist and we got talking about how the world is going to be such a different place when our kids grow up. How skills that we consider relevant today will be almost defunct by then. The pace at which the world, especially India, is changing is unprecedented and the onus is upon us to prepare ourselves for this change with as much agility as possible. With the advent of digital and new technologies, the plum businesses that we are sitting on today may become irrelevant suddenly and we may be left gasping.

This conversation prompted me to reach out to my network of friends, clients, entrepreneurs etc. to run a small survey about the immediate focus that each one of us has for the next year – What top 3 habits do we want to inculcate this year to ensure we are better prepared for the VUCA world? I got responses from over 100 people ranging from entrepreneurs, women solopreneurs, managers, leaders of SME’s, sales leaders etc. and the results are quite interesting.

Overall, the top 3 habits that people are looking to build for the new year are:

  1. To stay trainable
  2. Network effectively
  3. Build alternate skills

There seems to be an undeniable awareness of the need to re-skill and people want to stay in a frame of mind which allows them to stay trainable, no matter how much knowledge or experience they already carry. People are keen to network to gain access to new knowledge and new opportunities and are also looking to build a repertoire of skills over and beyond the specialized ones that they already possess.

An interesting trend among founders and entrepreneurs emerged too. The top habits they are looking to build are:

  1. Network extensively
  2. Focus on self-care
  3. Read and write more

While networking remains a key skill to be aware of for them too, they were keen to look inward, focus on their own care and development so as to emerge more resilient to face the unexpected challenges that the VUCA world would throw up. Reading and writing could be their way of communicating or journaling their own stories and understanding other’s stories to enrich their understanding of themselves and the world.

A pretty large group of my sample set also consisted of sales leaders. The results there were quite different. The top 3 habits they are looking to build are:

  1. Staying trainable
  2. Taking calculated risks
  3. Seeking feedback

In fact, none of the sales leaders surveyed looked at self-care, reading and writing or finding a coach as a top 3 habit they wanted to build this year. My interpretation of this was this group, being closer to consumers and having an immediate business impact, are looking to find quick solutions in the midst of an uncertain business outlook – seek feedback to take quick corrective action, stay trainable to ensure that feedback can be worked upon, work on it and then go ahead and take calculated risks.

Women founders and solopreneurs overwhelmingly want to stay trainable, focus on self-care and build alternate skills. There seems to an equal focus on keeping themselves updated on emerging skills by continuously learning while building resilience and grit by focusing on self-care.

A simple survey gave me a lot of food for thought. Would be keen to hear your thoughts. Here is a quick graph on the survey results:

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